Remember, before Facebook, when friends used to ring you up to wish you a happy birthday? Or to congratulate you on a new job rather than writing on the wall or clicking the ‘Like’ button?
Well now the traditional expressions of sympathy during sad times, an arm around the shoulder, an invite for a pint, a card in the post or a bunch of flowers are potentially under threat from the social network.
Facebook has revealed it is actively experimenting with a ‘Sympathise’ button, which was dreamt up at a recent hackathon event and was an immediate hit.
It would work, as thus: If you tag your status with a negative emotion, such as ‘feeling sad’ then a ‘Sympathise’ button would replace the ‘Like’ button.
"It would be, ‘five people sympathise with this,’ instead of ‘five people ‘like’ this,’" said Daniel Muriello, a Facebook engineer. "Of course a lot of people were – and still are – very excited about. But we made a decision that it was not exactly the right time to launch that product. Yet."
When ‘Like’ doesn’t cover it
In some cases, this would be a nice idea. After all, when someone expresses a loss, users may appreciate the sentiment’s expressed in a status update, but clicking ‘Like’ doesn’t quite seem appropriate.
Also when one of your mates complains about his boss, or the late running trains, or his relegation-threatened football team, Like also doesn’t seem to cover it.
However, Facebook already does so much to take the effort out of maintaining a real, friendship and the sincerity of real-life well wishes, do we really need that threatened further by a Sympathy button?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.